My plane is full. My parents, Mia, Elliot and Kate, Ethan, Mrs. Jones, Taylor, the entire security team, Teddy, and I are on our way to Los Angeles where the cargo ship carrying the survivors of flight Q107 will dock. It’s one thirty in the morning and, barring any delays, we should land right about the same time the ship pulls in.
I’m nervous. Extremely fucking nervous. I don’t like feeling this way. I know she’s on the ship. I know that. She has to be. All of this couldn’t have been for nothing. I haven’t been working non-stop, spending millions of dollars, living through this hell for her to not be on that ship. The news reported a lot of casualties. There were new numbers, higher numbers, coming out with each new report. They have no names. No one has names. Even Commander Murdach couldn’t tell me if my wife had been rescued. There are only numbers. 68 people are on the ship coming home. Flight Q107 had 290 passengers and 68 survived.
I swallow hard, and drum my hand against the armrest of my seat. The sound of my wedding ring against the plastic is loud and sharp. I can’t think about odds right now. I know what the odds are and the more I think about them the harder it is for me to not crumple with pain.
“Christian, what can I get for you?” My mom asks, leaning over the aisle.
“Teddy,” I say hoarsely. “Bring me my son.” She gets up and moves to the back of the plane where Gail is sitting with Teddy. Seconds later she returns and gently lays my baby in my arms. The relief I feel is immediate and I know this is the Ana part of him. Just the way Ana is able to keep my nightmares away, Teddy is able to take away my fear, my worry, my doubt. I stroke the soft, thin hair on the top of his head, lean over, and kiss him on the forehead.
I love you, Theodore, and I love your mother. She’s going to be okay. I’m going to bring her back to you, back to us.
As I enjoy the weight and comforting warmth from holding my son, I imagine how it will be when I see Ana again. I can’t even imagine the relief. To have the fear and the pain and the worry just disappear. If Teddy’s warmth is like a balm, holding Ana in my arms again will be like anesthesia. It will be a cure. I don’t know how I’ll ever let her go again. I want to make love with her, not for the reasons I normally do but because I will only be close enough to her if I’m inside her. Stirrings that I haven’t felt in days begin to re-emerge as I feel my body ache for her.
There is a small sound in my arms as Teddy sneezes in his sleep, his face crumples together and then relaxes as he drifts back into oblivion. I’m going to get Anastasia pregnant again as soon as possible. Teddy has been such a relief to me, such a necessary good. I want as many children as Anastasia is willing to give me. Two, three… twelve. I want them all.
“I’m sorry,” a strained voice across from me sounds. I hear a succession of broken, hitched breathing, followed by an anguished wail, and look up from my son to see that Kate is crying again.
“Hush, baby. It’s going to be okay. They’ve found her, I’m sure of it,” Elliot reassures her.
“He’s right, Katie,” Mia joins in. “It’s going to be okay. If I know Ana, she’s fine. Probably really pissed that’s she’s missed two extra days of work, but she’s gonna be fine.”
Kate chokes as she laughs through her tears. “You’re right, I-I-I know you’re r-r-right.” She stutters.
“Katherine Kavanagh-Grey,” I admonish her. “You know better than anyone else here that Anastasia is the most stubborn, difficult woman alive. Do you really believe she would let something as trivial as a plane crash get in her way?”
“Oh, Christian! Oh god, I know this is a billion times worse for you. If you can keep it together, I can. You’re right. She’s going to be fine, she has to be fine.” She wipes her tears with the back of her hand and I turn my gaze back to Teddy. She thinks I’m keeping it together, but in real life I’m being ripped apart by fear. I needed her to stop crying. I can’t handle my own pain, let alone everyone around me.
“Ladies and Gentleman, this is your captain speaking. We are making our final descent into Los Angeles. We should be on the ground in twenty minutes.”
My heart quickens and I take a deep breath to ease my nerves. Carrick reaches over and squeezes my shoulder as we feel the plane lose altitude.
“Mr. Grey, would you like me to take the baby?” Gail asks.
“Not yet,” I say, I’ll keep him until we land.
There are two black SUV’s waiting on the tarmac for us when we arrive. I take the front seat of the one closest to me and dial the number for search and rescue while I impatiently wait for Kate, Elliot, Ethan, Mia and Taylor to get into the car.
“Search and Rescue,” a quick, tired voice answers. “Please hold.”
“No,” I say loudly and quickly. “I will not hold. Get me Murdach.”
“I’m sorry, sir, we’re fielding a lot of calls at the moment. I’m going to have to place you on hold.”
“This is Christian Grey and if you put me on fucking hold, I’ll have your job.”
“Oh- Oh I’m sorry, Mr. Grey, I didn’t realized. I’ll transfer you right away.” There is a quick interlude of hold music and Murdach answers.
“Hello, Mr. Grey. Are you in Los Angeles?”
“Yes, I just landed. Do you have names for me?” I ask.
“No, sir. The ship is docking as we speak. We won’t have any information until the survivors make their way to the recovery center where we will take their information.”
“They’ve been on a ship for nine hours, why the fuck haven’t they had their information taken yet?”
“Sir, all of the passengers were extremely dehydrated and in need of medical attention and rest. Our first priority was to attend to those needs.”
“I’ll be there in 25 minutes,” I snap. “I don’t want any trouble when I arrive.”
“I’ll see to it, Mr. Grey.”
“See that you do.” I hang up the phone and look over at the speedometer.
“Can’t you drive any faster?” I ask, irritated.
“Sir, I’m doing the speed limit,” the driver responds. My blood boils and I wish I would have asked the rental company to simply drop off the cars. If Taylor was driving, we’d be halfway there by now.
“I didn’t ask if you were doing the speed limit, I asked you to drive faster.”
“Sir, I’m restricted by company guidelines. I cannot drive faster than the legal posted speed.”
I reach around for my wallet and pull out the $800 I have on me and hand them to him.
“I need you to get us there, now,” I say. He reaches out and takes the money and puts his foot down. We fly down the highway towards the marina.
When we arrive, I jump out of the car and practically run to the recovery center. There is a man at the door preventing people from entering off the street and as I shove my way through the crowd of gawkers, he steps in front of me.
“Approved personnel only,” he said sharply to me.
“My name is Christian Grey, I believe that I am approved personnel.” His face shifts and he steps aside, muttering an apology.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Grey, right this way.”
I don’t bother responding to his apology, I simply continue to push my way forward. When I emerge in the large, crowded room, my stomach churns. There are dozens of people in hospital beds, many suffering from critical injuries including severe burns and dismemberment. Oh shit, I hadn’t considered this possibility. The only thing that had mattered to me up until this point was that Ana was alive. What if she was seriously injured? Maybe this nightmare wasn’t over. Oh god, something could be seriously wrong.
“Can I help you, sir?” A woman in an navy blue jumpsuit asks.
“Anastasia Grey?” I ask desperately. She looks down at her clipboard and frowns. Oh no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
“I’m sorry sir, I don’t have an Anastasia Grey, but we’ve only been able to speak with about 20 or so people. Feel free to look around, it would be very helpful if you were able to identify your loved one.”
I storm past her and look frantically from one injured face to another. There are rows and rows of beds, and on several occasions I have to wait for doctors to be done examining the patient before I can see who they are. As the minutes pass, I become overwhelmed by fear again. Fuck, she has to be here. She has to be here. I run back up the aisles I’ve already searched but I still can’t find her.
My hands shoot up into my hair as I feel the panic begin to set in.
“Anastasia!” I yell, desperately. Answer me, baby. I know you’re here, just answer me.
“Mr. Grey?” A weak voice behind me asks. I whirl around and see Hannah laying the bed behind me with a broken leg.
“Hannah?” I ask, a slight feeling of relief washing over me. Ana was sitting right next to Hannah. If Hannah was able to survive, surely so did Ana.
“Mr. Grey,” She replies with relief. “Where is Ana, did you get Ana?”
Enormous, cathartic relief washes over me. Ana is here, Hannah has seen her.
“No, I haven’t been able to find her yet. Do you know where she is?” I ask. The respite in my voice is obvious. It feels like the first time I’ve been able to speak without yelling in days. Hannah looks back at me confused.
“Sh-she isn’t with you?” She stutters weakly. “I thought you would have got her by now.”
“I’ve only just gotten here, I haven’t been able to find her.”
“She isn’t here, Mr. Grey.”
It feels as though my blood freezes in my veins.
“What do you mean she isn’t here, Hannah? You haven’t seen her?” I demand, my voice hardening once again.
“No,” She whispers, wincing with pain. “Mr. Grey, Ana wasn’t on the plane.”
“What? What do you mean she wasn’t on the plane?” I ask.
“We were running late. She got stopped at security for a random search. She told me to go ahead and she’d meet me on the plane when they were finished, but she never came. She wasn’t on the plane.”
My first reaction is relief. Oh thank god, she wasn’t on the plane. She wasn’t hungry. She wasn’t thirsty. She wasn’t broken, or burned, or cut, or stranded at sea for days. Then my mind catches up. If she wasn’t on the plane, why haven’t I heard from her ? Surely, if she missed her flight she would have called me and asked me to send the jet or at the very least book another flight. I’ve been combing through our bank accounts for the last 24 hours as I’ve been filtering money to search and rescue. There haven’t been any additional flights booked. If she wasn’t on the plane, where the fuck is she?
I turn away from Hannah, reach into my pocket for my blackberry and begin dialing her number furiously. It rings. It’s been off, or dead for days, going to straight to voicemail, but now, it rings.
“Have you figured it out, Grey?” A cold male voice answers. My muscles clench and I feel like my body has frozen.
“Who is this?” I demand. He laughs.
“All you need to know, is that I’m the man who has your wife.”